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“Faf will have my unequivocal support if he is asked to continue leading this exciting Proteas Test team,” de Villiers said after quitting the captaincy Getty Images (File Photo)

South African Test team s captain and talismanic batsman AB de Villiers stepped down from the captaincy on Monday, an official release by Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed. De Villiers was appointed in January this year following Hashim Amla s resignation, and led the team in two Tests against England before injury forced him to miss the series against New Zealand and Australia at the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. His resignation came in the wake of his unavailability for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka, which he will be forced to miss due to his injury. It means Faf du Plessis, who lead the team to series win in Australia, will continue to lead the side.

The release quoted de Villiers as saying: The interests of the team must always outweigh the interests of any individual, including me. It was a fantastic honour for me to be asked to captain the Test side but I have missed two series and I am still in doubt for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka. Following the squad s outstanding performances in Australia, it is clearly in the greater interests of the team that Faf du Plessis should be confirmed as the permanent Test captain.

The prolific run-scorer also said, I have known Faf for almost 20 years, ever since we played in the same school side at Afrikaans Hoer Seunskool, and he will have my unequivocal support if he is asked to continue leading this exciting Proteas Test team. De Villiers has been ruled out of the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka after failing to recover sufficiently from an elbow injury.

The Proteas team manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee shared the details on de Villiers injury status in the release. AB s left elbow is much improved but is still regaining the last few degrees of straightening. Fitness to play requires full range of elbow movement and this may take another 3-4 weeks to achieve. He will be unavailable for the Test series against Sri Lanka and will target a return for the ODI series starting at the end of January.

CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat also expressed his admiration for the decision taken by de Villiers. AB has always carried himself as a true team player and his decision to step down confirms his attitude to put the team first. It is no surprise that the CSA Board has confirmed Faf du Plessis as the Test captain to take over from AB, the release quoted Lorgat as saying.

The Proteas test squad for the Sri Lanka series will be announced later this week.